You may have heard of this thing called the Montessori floor bed and wondered how it could possibly work, when you should start, why you should do it, and where to find one — so I’m here to share all the answers!
Let’s start with the most important question: WHY do Montessori parents use floor beds instead of cribs? It’s a very simple answer: to allow for freedom of movement. Montessori, in general, is a philosophy of “no containers,” and a crib is just another type of container whose main purpose is to keep a child in one place. Dr. Maria Montessori studied children’s needs and behaviors, and she learned through her observations that the child’s sensitive period for movement is from birth through age 6. That means that instead of restricting movement during those years, we should provide plenty of freedom (within limits) for the child to perfect his movements. Putting your child to sleep on a floor bed instead of in a crib means that the child has the freedom to get into and out of bed on his own. I found that a floor bed was helpful in getting our girls to fall asleep on their own without needing me to be in there for hours trying to soothe them to sleep — some mothers enjoy that, but that was not something that I could do. If they didn’t want to sleep when I put them in bed after feeding, they could get out of bed and read. They almost never did that.
So WHEN do we start using floor beds? Floor beds can be used from birth! In fact, starting with a floor bed will eliminate the need to transition into one at an older age, which comes with its own challenges. I know that many new parents like to keep their newborns in a bedside bassinet or somewhere in the same room as them and then move baby to a floor bed after a few months, and if that works for you — go for it! I actually had both of my girls in their floor beds just a few days after delivery. I tried having them in our room as soon as we got home from the hospital, but I didn’t sleep at all because I had so much anxiety about something happening to them that I would just watch their chests to make sure they were still breathing all night. Moving them to their own rooms meant that I could get the sleep I needed to properly care for them during the day.
HOW do you set up a room so it’s safe for an infant/toddler to be in a floor bed? The key to this is keeping the room pretty empty. All we kept in my girls’ rooms were books, a chair, a dresser, and a mattress on the floor — everything securely strapped to the wall, outlets covered, all safety features installed. When they woke up in the morning, they would either cry because they were hungry or entertain themselves with books if they weren’t. Neither of them got out of bed in the middle of the night — or if they did, we didn’t know about it because they were happy to explore the safe environment we’d created in there without disturbing us!
And finally, WHERE do you get a Montessori floor bed? We just used a twin size mattress on the floor to allow for more movement. My first daughter rolled off it in her sleep but never got hurt — she would actually roll all the way across the room and we’d find her fast asleep on the floor 10 feet away from her bed in the morning! My second daughter never rolled off hers. You can put a pool noodle under the fitted sheet to provide a bit of a buffer, but my first daughter rolled right over that. They both slept on those same mattresses right on the floor until they begged for bunkbeds a few years later. If you want a fancier version with a bit of a rail to prevent rolling, I recommend the Sprout floor bed frame, which is available in crib size, twin size, or full size.